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Film Focus on: Labyrinth (1986)

Emily and Sarah review Cult Classic ‘Labyrinth‘ Directed by Jim Henson, Executive Produced by George Lucas, and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The musical film revolves around 15 year-old Sarah’s quest to reach the centre of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her baby brother Toby, who has been kidnapped by Jareth, the Goblin King (played by David Bowie). With the exception of Bowie and Connelly, most of the significant characters in the film are played by puppets produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The Film will be screening at this year’s Isle of Man Film Festival.

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David Bowie starring in Labyrinth (1986)

Watch our Video Review Clip

Listen to our Audio Review Clip

The Film’s Trailer

Find Film Focus Elsewhere:
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Video Channel: vimeo.com/channels/filmfocus
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Happy Movie Going!

Emily Cook
This post was written by Emily Cook

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Film Focus on: The Dogme 95 Film Movement with Ash Singh & Emily Cook

In this exclusive video Emily‘s joined by Film Focus‘ Resident Cultural Commentator Ash Singh to talk about the controversial avant-garde film movement, Dogme, where the director doesn’t get credited and sexual acts are depicted for real. In this filmed segment, Ash speaks about this exciting and often misused Danish school of filmmaking.

*Warning- trailers contain nudity and sexual references.*

Ash Singh
Ash Singh is a social and cultural commentator and broadcaster who has written for the Guardian,  Spectator, Scotsmen and appears regularly on national and international television. He has a book coming out later this year.

Watch the Video

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Listen to the Audio Discussion 

Dogma 95 Emily Cookand Ash Singh Film Focus

Film Focus elsewhere:
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Video Channel: Film Focus Episodes
Audio Channel: soundcloud.com/filmfocus
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Film Focus’  Emily Cook and Ash Singh

On Location: 5 Forests of Fear

In order to create the most believable ‘on screen’ worlds, films utilise a number of key elements, including computer generated imagery (CGI), set design and studio builds but perhaps most important, is the effective use of location. Films that rely heavily on a few key natural locations are able to keep costs down as they reduce the need for set dressing and costly studio rental fees.

Watch the Video Clip of Emily and Sarah Talking about the Films and Trailers

A natural location we see appearing time and time again in lower budget films is that of the forest. Low and medium budget thriller and horror films in particular make use of woodland in their on-screen worlds. The innate characteristics and physical benefits offered by the forest are a real gift to the film-maker. As far back as Shakespeare’s day, literature has presented the ‘woods’ as a place of mystery, trickery, evil and supernatural events, we see it again in the 19th century with the German fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm (e.g. in Hansel and Gretel), and the references continue right up to the present day with the likes of the 2014 film, ‘Into the Woods’ and aptly titled ‘The Forest’ (2016).

Physically, once under the canopy of the trees, our protagonists find themselves trapped,  disorientated, and confused within a repetitive landscape of untamed and unruly wilderness.  In the most basic sense, the trees and their darkness offer places for nefarious characters to hide and shelter so that their deeds can be concealed.

So now we invite you to follow us, breadcrumbs at the ready, into the deep dark forest as we explore our top 5 examples of when forests have been utilised effectively to generate a sense of fear and tension within a film.

Listen to our clip

 

Our Top 5 Forests of Fear

1.‘Severance’ (2006) Directed by Christopher Smith
Chosen by Emily

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A still from the film

What’s it all about ? Severance, directed by Christopher Smith is a British comedy Horror thriller that tells the story of a group of sales representatives who, when on a team building weekend in a remote cabin in the forests of eastern europe, become the victims of a group of crazed killers who will stop at nothing to see them dead. The film boasts an all star cast including, Toby Stephens, Danny Dyer, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, Tim McInnerny, Laura Harris and David Gilliam.

Why we selected this film?
Emily: With a relatively low budget of an estimated at £5 million, the film made great use of the dramatic and atmospheric forests of the Isle of Man, which is where most of the on screen  action takes place. Arguably the film is rather formulaic and not everyone’s cup of tea, no doubt Danny Dyer’s involvement might put some audiences off, but I found the film’s depiction of location presented an effective sense of impending doom, as an innocent situation very quickly became something rather more sinister. The chase scenes through the trees were particularly well shot.

Trivia: Hilariously Danny Dyer spent 10 weeks toning up in the gym prior to shooting. His efforts aren’t noticable in the film. 

Severance’s Trailer:

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2.Evil Dead (1981)  Directed by Sam Raimi
Chosen by Sarah

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Behind the scenes on set

What’s it all about?  The Evil Dead is a 1981 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who also stars alongside Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The film focuses on five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area. After they find an audiotape that releases a legion of demons and spirits, members of the group suffer from demonic possession, leading to increasingly gory mayhem.

Why we selected this film:
Sarah:
This is a bit of an obvious one to choose but it had to be done!  Even though much of the action takes place inside the cabin, the forest plays an integral part of the storyline (the thick expanse of trees hem the cabin in, adding to the secluded atmosphere, and, as anyone who has seen the original movie will know, there is an unforgettable and harrowing scene that takes place in the woods when one of the friends leaves the cabin)

Trivia:  Filming began in 1979 with a cast and crew of 37 people. Initial shooting finished in six weeks, but it took 1.5 years to edit the picture (Joel Coen was actually an Assistant Editor on the movie).

The Evil Dead Trailer:  

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3.Take Down (2016) by Director Jim Gillespie
Chosen by Emily

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Official promo image

What?  TAKE DOWN from Director Jim Gillespie, focuses on the reckless sons and daughters of international billionaires, who have been sent by their frustrated parents to an exclusive, tough-love boot camp on a remote island, where they will be taught basic survival skills in the hope it will teach them to take responsibility for their lives. When they are taken hostage and held for a billion dollar ransom by a group of sophisticated kidnappers, the young captives suddenly need every ounce of their brief training to survive.

The film stars a bevy of gorgeous talented young cast including Ed Westwick, Jeremy Sumpter, Phoebe Tonkin, Ashley Walters and Dominic Sherwood.
The film’s trailer has just surfaced, please watch out online for the film’s UK release date later this year..

Why we selected this film:  
Emily: I had the pleasure of working on Take Down when it was shot in 2014, so had first hand experience of being on location for the shoots. The majority of the lighthouse scenes were shot in Wales where as the quarry, cliff face, beach and of course Forest scenes were all shot in the Isle of Man. Over the fortnight of shooting, she film shot in several different Manx woodland areas including Ballaugh and Sulby Glen. The steep plantation floors made for a physically strenuous experience for both the cast and crew which reflect well on screen. The nature of the forest provides several perfect opportunities for ‘ambush’ scenarios. The woodland in Take Down houses the action sequences rather than the horror of Severance.

Trivia: In line with last month’s celebration of Female Filmmakers, the Film was Produced by accomplished producer Sarah Black.

Take Down’s Trailer:

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4. Battle Royale (2000)  Directed by  Kinji Fukasaku

Chosen by Sarah

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A still from the film

What’s it all about?  Battle Royale is a Japanese film directed by Kinji Fukasaku using a screenplay written by his son Kenta and stars, among others, Takeshi Kitano (probably best known for the TV show Takeshi’s Castle). The film tells the story of a junior high-school student who is struggling with the suicide of his father and who is forced by the government to compete in a deadly game where the students in his class must fight to the death, with only the sole survivor being allowed to live.

Why we selected this film:
Sarah:
This is very similar to films like Take Down or The Hunger Games franchise but pre-dates all of them (the novel the film was based on was published in 1999 and was seen as very controversial at the time).  The forest setting is used both as a sanctuary for the characters and a place where surprise attacks can be staged and traps can be constructed; the environment is much more functional than atmospheric in other words.  I’d say Battle Royale is a beautiful blend of action, horror and thriller and I urge everyone to check it out – it’s brilliant!

Trivia:  Director Kinji Fukasaku celebrated his 70th birthday during the production. He passed away two years later during the production of the sequel “Battle Royale II” (2003), ending a 40 year career in the director’s chair.

Battle Royale’s Trailer:  

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  1. Camera Trap (2015) Written and Directed Alex Verner
    Chosen by Emily

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    Official promo image

What’s it all about? Camera Trap from Writer Director Alex Verner is a natural history documentary style horror-thriller about a British wildlife film unit, set in the depths of central Asia. Using the latest in camera trap technology, four film-makers go out in search of the rare Amur Snow Leopard. What they discover is something far more terrifying than they expected.

Why we selected this film:
Emily:
I worked on this film in 2013 creating all of the DVD extras or EPK, this is the third film we’re focussing on which was shot on the Isle of Man. The film has the same producer as Severance, Jason Newmark. Unlike Severance and Take Down, however, Camera Trap makes use of the forests at night time, displaying it a variety of erie ways. The USP of the film is how it makes use of various camera technologies, state of the art infrared cameras, handheld diary cameras, head cameras, body cameras, gopros, camera traps and starlight camera. The use of darkness in conjunction with camera footage that excluded great deal of information from the frame, plays on the audience’s fear of the unknown. It’s in Camera Trap that the location of the forest at night really shines. Who knows what’s lurking behind the trees…

Camera Trap is available to download on iTunes with this link:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/camera-trap/id1005062592

Trivia:  The film seamlessly joins forest shot in the Isle of Man with that of Nepal.

Camera Trap’s Trailer:

Which films would you include in your top 5 forests of fear?

 

Film Focus elsewhere:
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Happy Movie Going!

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Redux ‘Redo’ the art of recreating feature films

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Emily with Richard in the Shoreditch studio, all smiles following recording the interview.

We met up with film-maker, artist and activist Richard DeDomenici, at a Shoreditch Studio in East London, to chat about his Redux Project, what it was like working on BBC Four’s exciting and innovative  ‘On Stage: Live from Television Centre’  and his exciting plans for the future.

The Redux Project‘s aim is to ‘disrupt the cinema industry by making counterfeit sections of popular films’. The project has so far taken him to London, Glasgow, Berlin, Bangkok, Sydney, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guaangzhou, BBC4 and many more, and, unlike most derivative works, his ‘fakes’ have often received better reviews than the original movies. He’s hoping to add the Isle of Man to his list in the near future!

Full Video Interview

*Exclusive* Richard DeDomenici gives a director’s commentary of his Matrix Redux.

We also speak to Richard about the Isle of Man’s MannIN Shorts Scheme and the Manx Scene Stealer course which involved two production teams going head to head to recreate iconic scenes from the Shining and The Graduate. It provided a fantastic training ground for new film makers to explore various production roles within a contained and challenging remit.

Richard is a true creative Tour-de-force, having created over 50 Redux’s of feature films over the past 2 years. A few examples of Richard’s previous Redux’s are below: (We speak about the making of some of these examples within the interview)

The Duchess: Redux (Filmed in Bath, May 2014)

Bangkok Traffic Love Story: Redux (Filmed in Bangkok, February 2013)

Cloud Atlas: Redux ( Filmed in Glasgow, March 2013)

‘Outrageous, hilarious but piercing, a sharp critique of modern myth-making. ☆☆☆☆’
Scotsman, 2013, on Cloud Atlas: Redux

 

Find Film Focus Elsewhere:
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This post was created by Emily Cook

Episode 2: The January Edition -New Year, New Films, Inspirational Movies and ‘Re-dos’

We’re delighted to be back with the second ever episode of our new Film Focus podcast! Each Episode can be found in video format on our Vimeo Channel and an audio version is housed on our Soundcloud channel

Episode 2: The January Edition – Inspirational Films and Redo’s
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Episode summary:

In this episode, we review Daddy’s Home, the latest offering from TarantinoThe Hateful Eight and The Revenant. We reveal some surprising movie trivia and Emily and Sarah divulge their top 5 inspirational films to help us beat the January blues. We also hear from you, and discuss your favourites.

In our special guest interview Emily speaks to filmmaker activist and artist, Richard DeDomenici about his hugely successful Redux Project and the Manx Scene Stealers (the recreating iconic scenes from feature films) and they discuss what it was like working on BBC Four’s Live from Television Centre together.

We also have an exclusive directors commentary from Richard of his  Matrix Redux (make sure to watch the video file below of this episode for the full affect).

We also give you the latest installment of Sarah’s exciting 500  Film Challenge – she’s watching 500 films in a year!
Trivia, reviews, interviews and much more from the world of film!

Watch the full episode:

Listen to the full episode:

For more episodes and exclusive clips, please check out our Vimeo Channel and  Soundcloud channel which house all of our episodes. Please subscribe to both channels as well as this blog, to make sure you’re the first to hear about our next episodes.

We also have a specially created ‘Inspirational Movies’ themed blog post as well as a blog about Richard DeDomenici’s Redux’s.Check them out on our blog post section.

Find Film Focus Elsewhere:
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Vimeo Channel: vimeo.com/channels/filmfocus
Audio Channel: https://soundcloud.com/filmfocus

Happy New Year and Happy Movie Going!!

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This post was written by Emily Cook

Film Focus on: The Watchmaker’s Apprentice

We joined David Armstrong, Director of the Watchmaker’s Apprentice in his Isle of Man studio, DAM Productions, to speak about this beautiful film, where the idea came from and some insights into the production process.

The film was made on the Isle of Man by a tenacious group of talented professionals who are either IOM based or with strong links to the Island. A credits list can be found further down the page.

‘A compelling new film about two of the world’s greatest watchmakers – their extraordinary craft, their touching relationship and their unique personalities…’

Watch the video interview clip:

Listen to the audio clip

The interview is part of our first episode of Film Focus, you can listen to the whole show via the link below. The episode also includes reviews of feature films, the latest film news, what happened when we met with Zach Gilligan (The Gremlins), exciting trivia as well as our discussion on what makes a Christmas nostalgia film.

The Watchmaker’s Apprentice Trailer:

The film was created by the very talented bunch below:
Producers: 
Alistair Audsely , Zoe Guilford , David Armstrong and Christy Dehaven
Writers: Alistair Audsley, Christy  DeHaven, Zoe Guilford and Roy McMillan ,
Director: David Armstrong
Editor: Christy DeHaven
Cinematography: David Armstrong
Music and Sound: David Armstrong
Beautiful Narration by:  John Rhys-Davies. 
Animations from: Gary Myers and Andrew Martin

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Christy and Dave receive their special WorldFest Remi Award

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When we joined Director David Armstrong and Roger Smith at the Saachi Gallery screening of the Watchmaker’s Apprentice

If you like the look of the trailer, you can  get your own very special copy by clicking on the amazon logo below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Watchmakers-Apprentice-George-Daniels/dp/B00U7DLUNQ

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Find Film Focus Elsewhere:
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Audio Channel: @filmfocus

Happy Movie Going!!

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This post was created by Emily Cook

Episode 1: The December Edition – Christmas Movie Magic

Over the past four months, we’ve been busily working away on creating a Film Focus’ brand new film Podcast and we’re delighted to announce the first episode! Each Episode can be found in video format on our Vimeo Channel and an audio version is housed on our Soundcloud channel

Episode 1: The December Edition – Christmas Movie Magic

Episode summary:
We review Black Mass, Spectre, The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2, The Lady in the Van and speak about the greatly anticipated Star Wars The Force Awakens. We reveal some awesome and surprising movie trivia, Emily and Sarah discuss what makes the perfect Christmas film and giving a run down of their top 5. We also hear from you, and discuss your favourites.

In our special guest interview Emily speaks to Director Dave Armstong about the Watchmaker’s Apprentice, and Sarah tells us what happened when she meet Zach Galligan, the lead actor from  Gremlins this week.

We also give you the latest installment of Sarah’s exciting 500  Film Challenge – she’s watching 500 films in a year!
Trivia, reviews, interviews and much more from the world of film!

Watch the full episode:

 

Listen to the full episode:
(you can click play and then minimise this window to continue with your browsing with us in the background)

Exclusive Clip:
Interview with Director Dave Armstrong about the Watchmaker’s apprentice.

Coming soon! – Please check back for clips within the next few days!

For more episodes and exclusive clips, please check out our Vimeo Channel and  Soundcloud channel which will provide a home to all of our future episodes too. Please subscribe to both channels as well as this blog, to make sure you’re the first to hear about our next episodes.

We also have a specially created Christmas themed blog post, check out ‘Unwrapping the Magic of Christmas Movie Nostalgia’ on our blog post section.

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Sarah and friends meeting Zach Gilliagan (Gremlins )

 

Thanks to Dam Production Isle of Man for use of their studio for the special guest interview and ident recordings.

Find Film Focus Elsewhere:
Blog: reelvision.wordpress.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FilmFocusReelVision
Vimeo Channel: vimeo.com/channels/filmfocus
Audio Channel: @filmfocus

Happy Movie Going

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This post was written by Emily Cook